Recent studies, especially those by Graedel et al. (Yale University, Center for Industrial Ecology - 2013, 2012), warn that costly and disruptive supply shortages could potentially occur in the near-term future for an array of key elements that --- for one reason or another --- are critical for manufacturing and achieving superior levels of performance in vast numbers of high-tech processes and myriads of devices --- electronic and otherwise --- that modern society has come to depend upon in everyday life.
For example, many of Graedel et al.’s key elements are used as catalysts in commercially important petrochemical processes. They also comprise essential ingredients in microchips and play important roles in certain energy-critical technologies such as solar PV panels (Tellurium in Cadmium Telluride).
Low energy nuclear reactions (LENRs) are a new type of truly green radiation- and radwaste-free nuclear technology that can be used for power generation and transmuting selected ‘target’ elements that are found in the Periodic Table. Production of most of the technologically critical elements noted in studies by Graedel et al. and others have already been reported by various researchers in different LENR experiments, albeit only in nanoscale microscopic quantities.
Importantly, proof-of-concept for LENR transmutation of various elements in such laboratory quantities has been reported by major Japanese companies and published in peer-reviewed journals; such companies include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toyota, among others.
If commercialized versions of LENRs could someday be developed and scaled-up both quantity- and % yield-wise, rough speculative analysis of the future economics of transmutation suggests that production of many scarce elements could potentially be a high-gross-margin business activity. Successful commercialization of industrial transmutation processes could thus potentially help lessen the likelihood and severity of economically disruptive shortages of critical elements going forward into the future.